Maple and the Maker: Vermont’s Working Landscape

Vermont forests are home to more than fifty tree species but not one is more famous than the Sugar Maple. They are trees beloved for their brilliant foliage, generous shade and for their prized, pure and delicious syrup. As fine furniture makers, we’re fond of the hard maple wood for its durability and strength, and its variation in color. From darker heartwood to shining, bright sapwood, with occasional and special figure, Maple trees provide for some of our finest commissioned pieces. Vermont’s state tree, it’s one that keeps on giving.

Maple Taffy Table

Farmers in the Green Mountain State have been harvesting sap and converting it to syrup for generations. Affectionately dubbed Vermont Gold, it’s the state’s most well known export and the hallmark of a true Vermont experience. Our friends at the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association produced this fantastic video clip which tells the “working lands” story of sugaring in Vermont. It’s a story of sweetness and tradition, of relationships and stewardship across the yawn of many years.

Vermont Maple Stewardship and the Land

A farmer is custodian to his sugar bush year round, but late February and March are truly action packed. The countryside is dotted with steam clouds as evaporators churn out sweet, maple-y goodness. It’s the perfect time to visit Vermont or meet up with friends for a little backyard adventure. On March 22nd and 23rd, sugar makers throughout the state invite the public to experience (and sample) this well loved local tradition. Maple Open House Weekend is a celebration of Vermont culture, community and the arrival of spring!

Vermont handmade furniture

Every once in a while one of these stately trees comes down. A stand is thinned as good management practice or compromised by Mother Nature. Southern Vermont furniture maker Bob Gasperetti crafted an incredible console table, with taps intact (above), a nice link back to the land.  

A couple of years ago, the Frog Hollow State Craft Center assembled a show to celebrate the working landscape. ‘From Vermont’s Forests‘ featuring Guild work in native wood. Laberge contributed the wine rack and Richard Bissell, the stool below. Bissell is known for his line of tractor seat stools — this one in Curly Maple. The fun seating piece combines a rustic sense of nostalgia with comfort and function. 

Tractor Seat Stool

So we look forward to March, when the sun is warmer, and the sap is flowing. Days are lighter a bit longer. Visitors to Vermont stay and play, and experience early spring. Don’t forget to look up our makers. Schedule a studio visit ahead and plan to check out our state craft centers and independent galleries.

handmade maple headboard

Whether it’s a pint of syrup or a piece of handcrafted studio furniture, the beauty of Vermont is captured in the landscape and these traditions. Come and experience it for yourself!

Featured Vermont Maple Furniture:

David Hurwitz Originals “Maple Taffy Side Table”

Robert Gasperetti “Sugar Maple Console” with original taps

Richard Bissell Fine Woodworking “Tractor Seat Stool”

Wilson Woodworking “Tap Maple Headboard” (on your own for the pancakes!)

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